\ ˈbilk How to pronounce bilk (audio) \
bilked; bilking; bilks

Definition of bilk

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to block the free development of : frustrate fate bilks their hopes
2a : to cheat out of something valuable : defraud bilking investors out of their life savings
b : to evade payment of or to bilks his creditors
c : to obtain (something) by defrauding someone The Tampa couple sent out phony sonograms and bilked money from couples wanting children, authorities say.— Brady Dennis
3 : to slip away from bilked her pursuers



Definition of bilk (Entry 2 of 2)

: an untrustworthy tricky individual : cheat

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Other Words from bilk


bilker noun

Did You Know?


Initially, "bilking" wasn't considered cheating-just good strategy for cribbage players. Language historians aren't sure where "bilk" originated, but they have noticed that its earliest uses occur in contexts referring to cribbage. Part of the scoring in cribbage involves each player adding cards from his or her hand to a pile of discards called the "crib." At the end of a hand, the dealer gets any points in the crib. Strategically, then, it's wisest for the dealer's opponent to discard non-scoring cards-the ones most likely to "balk," or put a check on, the dealer's score. Etymologists theorize that "bilk" may have originated as an alteration of that card-game "balk."

Examples of bilk in a Sentence

Verb an investigation revealed that the garage had been bilking motorists for repairs that had never been made Noun people who lost money in the scheme discovered that the investment company was a fake and the “owner” just a bilk
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Two Encino couples are facing federal charges for an alleged scheme to bilk more than $5.6 million out of COVID-19 economic relief programs, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, "Two Encino couples charged in $5.6-million COVID-19 loan scheme," 19 Nov. 2020 Conservative critics are blasting the likes of Amazon, Apple and Facebook for allegedly using monopoly power to bilk consumers. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "The S&P just hit an all-time record. Can it go higher from here?," 12 Aug. 2020 The resulting Justice Department probe produced 33 federal indictments, 22 guilty pleas and an admission by Francis that his company bilked the Navy of $35 million. Anchorage Daily News, "Some Trump loyalists replacing federal watchdogs have ‘preposterous’ conflicts," 25 May 2020 Prosecutors allege that in addition to illegally transporting pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to the U.S., Petersen fraudulently enrolled the women in Arizona's Medicaid system, bilking the state out of more than $800,000. Andrew Oxford, azcentral, "Paul Petersen's wife asks lawmakers to change law that let authorities seize her homes," 20 May 2020 Maybe if Obama did that the Biden Family wouldn’t have bilked millions from Ukraine and billions from China; being covered up by a Corrupt Media. David French, National Review, "The Ukraine Story Isn’t a Story about the Media," 23 Sep. 2019 That includes Bernard Madoff, who was convicted of bilking thousands of investors worldwide of billions of dollars through an elaborate Ponzi scheme. Beth Warren, The Courier-Journal, "Daughter of Mexican drug cartel boss El Mencho wants emergency bond because of COVID-19," 20 Mar. 2020 Following an investigation that began in the San Antonio area, the Securities and Exchange Commission last week obtained an asset freeze order against a purported cryptocurrency firm that allegedly bilked millions from investors., "SEC sues digital currency firm with San Antonio-area ties," 24 Mar. 2020 Auditors found in December that Jeremiah Quarles bilked the city of $140,000. Miles Moffeit, Dallas News, "DeSoto officials mired in fraud scandal also took AT&T freebies to attend dinners, audit shows," 31 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And, despite its super hinky backstory, a bronze behemoth of bilk is taking shape in Everett. Yvonne Abraham,, "Is gambling here to stay?," 17 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bilk.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bilk


1641, in the meaning defined at sense 3


1777, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bilk

Verb and Noun

perhaps alteration of balk entry 1

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Last Updated

23 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bilk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for bilk


How to pronounce bilk (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of bilk

chiefly US, informal : to cheat or trick (a person or organization) especially by taking money

More from Merriam-Webster on bilk

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Nglish: Translation of bilk for Spanish Speakers

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